The uncanny way Cam Smith can switch on and off in the blink of an eye is something his coach Grant Field has never seen before.
This is why Field believes the laidback Queenslander can win his first major at the US PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, starting Friday morning (AEST).
Smith has been offered odds of $21 by Ladbrokes to win and – after memorable triumphs at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii and The Players Championship in Florida this year – those odds look generous.
Particularly when Field believes the current world No.4 has the mentality to stay in the top 10 for many years to come.
“The tougher the situation, the better he gets,” Field, also a Pelican Waters club pro and Queensland Academy of Sport Head Coach, told BettingSite.com.au.
“He’s always had a really good ability to switch on and off when he needs to.
“I’ve never seen another athlete who is as good at doing that.
“At the end of the day he realises it’s just a game, and if he gives it his best shot he’s comfortable knowing that’s all he can do.”
There have been plenty of moments Smith would have been comfortable with in regards to where his game and head was at – all just this year.
He held his nerve to beat world No.2 Jon Rahm in an enthralling final-day contest in Hawaii back in January, finishing an incredible 34 under par, the big Spaniard a shot behind him.
And his all-round game was near-faultless in his Players Championship victory in March, finishing a shot ahead of India’s Anirban Lahiri.
“He had very little weaknesses in his game at the Players, especially his iron, wedge and putting game,” Field said.
“It (his win in Hawaii) was like his President’s Cup battle with Justin Thomas (which he won at Royal Melbourne in December 2019).
“Cam just sees it (the pressure) differently to most others.
“He’s just an amazing competitor who believes he can go head-to-head with anyone in the world, and we saw that when he went against Rahm.”
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All this bodes well for Smith in his quest to win his first major tournament at the undulating Tulsa venue.
“You’ve got to have things go your way a little bit, but Cam is competing very well at the moment,” Field said.
“I don’t know when he’ll win a major, but if he keeps competing the way he has been, then he’ll continue to give himself a lot of opportunities to win one.”
The fact Smith has kept things simple – like he has done during his already-outstanding golf career – has been a large part of his success in 2022.
“We do a lot of work by video and I’ve worked with him since he was 10 or 11,” Field said.
“The great thing about Cam’s game now is we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel – he’s just trying to always get better.
“We haven’t had to change much because he’s got a lot that’s working well for him at the moment.”
Jason Day – who won this tournament in what was his maiden major at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, in 2015 – is the next Australian behind Smith in the PGA Championship betting markets, given odds of $67 to win by online bookmakers.
Fellow Australians Matt Jones, Adam Scott, Min Woo Lee, Marc Leishman, Cam Davis, Lucas Herbert and Adam Scott will also compete at Southern Hills Country Club.
All have shown glimpses of good form this year.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen, but those other Australians are all world-class players. It’s good to see Jason playing well again,” Field said.
“He’s putting himself in positions which he hasn’t found himself in for a while.
“When he was No.1 in the world he worked his backside off to get there, and he’s showing that same sort of commitment at the moment.
“We’ve got a lot of really talented players coming through at the moment and I think we’re only going to continue seeing more great golfers in the future.”
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